New England Patriots

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu Sr. of the New England Patriots warms up prior to their game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

It’s certainly fair to say at this point that Mohamed Sanu wasn’t Bill Belichick’s best trade addition. Acquired from the Falcons for a second-round pick last season, Sanu caught just 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in eight games and an ankle injury hobbled him for much of that time.

Instead of chasing the prospects of a veteran receiver acclimating to the Patriots’ system, Belichick decided to cut his losses and move on from Sanu as the team looks toward a new, younger crop of wideouts behind Julian Edelman. It sounds like there are no hard feelings either way.

“Just one of those things that just didn’t work out,” Belichick said in a video conference on Friday. “I have a lot of respect for Mo, but ultimately things just didn’t work out. I think he tried very hard, I think we tried hard. I don’t think it was anybody’s fault or anything like that. It was just one of those situations that just didn’t work out as well as anyone hoped it would have when the transaction was made.

“As always, we’ll try to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team, whether that’s bringing a person in or releasing a player. Obviously it can go both ways. At this point in time, we felt like that’s best for the team. Last year we felt differently. We’re in a little different of a situation this year.”

Mohamed Sanu never got rolling with the Patriots, as an ankle injury slowed him down. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Mohamed Sanu never got rolling with the Patriots, as an ankle injury slowed him down. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

It’s easy to read between the proverbial lines. The biggest difference between 2019 and 2020 is the quarterback position. Cam Newton has reportedly been named the starter internally (but Belichick declined to confirm that) and is officially a team captain. When Belichick says the Patriots tried hard to make it work with Sanu, he means they tried to make it work for Brady and Sanu.

MORE: Belichick Evades Starting QB Questions

With a newer group of receivers emerging on the depth chart, and Sanu reportedly struggling in training camp, it made cutting loose his $6.5 million non-guaranteed salary an easier decision. After Edelman, you’re likely to see a lot more of N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, and Damiere Byrd splitting out wide in the Newton-run offense.

The Sanu trade will go down as an L for Belichick as a GM. But from a coaching perspective, it feels like the right move to “close the lights” on a move that felt doomed early on.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at

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